Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Leon Warshay


This research examines the organized far right movement and interviews members of four right wing organizations to understand their goals and operations. This study compares the utility of two social movement theories, Resource Mobilization Theory (RMT) and New Social Movement Theory (NSMT) to explain the functioning of the four organizations. Resource Mobilization Theory contends that change is done politically in the sphere of institutional power, while New Social Movement Theory argues that change occurs in civil society.

The study was qualitative in nature and involved in-depth interviews with 97 members of four far right organizations across two Midwest states. The research hypothesis for this study is that RMT will better explain the nature of all four right organizations than NMST.

Three of the four organizations were better explained by RMT. They had highly sophisticated and hierarchical organizational structures with limited membership, aggressive forms of resource attainment through membership dues, and varying levels of political and/or legal mobilization such as lobbying, involvement with local, state, and federal political campaigns, running candidates for school board or political office, and legal challenges through the courts.

One of the four organizations tended to be better explained by RMT, but up to one-third of its members answered questions in manner consistent with NSMT. This finding was explained by the fact that the organization was an affiliate of a head branch, and therefore had limited autonomy. It relied significantly on the chief branch to direct its policies, and several of its members appeared to have less experience or knowledge of political and legal issues.